The Ultimate Fighter returned with a bang last Tuesday with its first episode airing on ESPN+. The 29th season has been titled “The Ultimate Fighter Returns” and features contestants from the Men’s Bantamweight (135 lbs) and Middleweight (185 lbs) divisions. Eight fighters from each division compete in a tournament, with the season’s two winners earning a contract and slot in the UFC roster. The season features coaches from the Featherweight division as champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega battling it out on the hit reality show before their fight in the cage.
Note: Spoilers Ahead!
The first episode saw the two teams picked, as shown below. From there, the teams settled into the house and began training before the first fight of the season. Per Ortega’s choice, this ended up being a Middleweight contest featuring Aaron Phillips (5-2) and Andre Petroski (5-1). Petroski finished the fight with a mounted guillotine choke in the first round, advancing to the semifinals.
The second episode featured a Bantamweight clash between Mitch Raposo (5-0) and Liudvik Sholinian (9-1-1), from team Volkanovski and Ortega, respectively. Raposo started strong, taking home the first round with his quick pocket boxing and defensive wrestling. The second round saw him struggle with Sholinian’s top control, sending them to the third round to even the draw. Sholinian won out, utilizing his wrestling and top control time for the decision win. This put Team Ortega up 2-0 over the champion’s team.
The next Middleweight bout was teased to headline the third episode, as Alexander Volkanovski matched up Ryder Newman (3-1) against Tresean Gore (3-0). Team Ortega’s Gore won a decision, dominating Ryder with his aggressive kickboxing.
The second Bantamweight fight was announced at the end of the episode, with Dustin Lampros (5-0) of Team Volkanovski and Vincent Murdock (12-4) of Team Ortega. Both fighters love a scrap, so this matchup of well-rounded prospects makes this a fantastic bout to get into!
Following a quick recap of the last bout, the fourth episode, entitled “On My Time”, picked up right from where the last left off. We were shown training footage and a personal breakdown of each of the fighters competing, getting into interviews and videos from back home.
The undefeated Dustin Lampros (5-0) was quickly established as a top prospect for the season, with slick submissions and a high striking pace. He has finished all of his pro wins. Lampros’ personality came through when he opened up about his mother, who passed away earlier and provides motivation for his fight career.
Vince Murdock (12-4) is a veteran of the Contender Series and clearly held a massive edge in experience. His striking technique is much higher than Lampros, so the gameplay for Team Ortega is to keep the fight on the feet and pick Lampros apart. He almost had his career end in 2019 with a brain disease called Moyamoya, which delayed his entry to the UFC.
Dustin Lampros struggled with the weight cut, with nearly 15 pounds to cut in just a matter of days. Team Volkanovski rallied around their fighter, with the coaches spending the night at the fighter house helping Lampros with the cut. Though it took two weight-in attempts for Lampros, both fighters made weight and the fight was set to go down.
The fight began closely contested on the feet, with Murdock exploding with boxing combinations and Lampros finding success with his leg kicks and heavy overhands, taking advantage of Murdock’s head movement. The fight stayed on the feet for its entirety, as Vince Murdock found a knockout just over halfway into the first round.
With this victory, Vince Murdock moves into the Bantamweight semi-finals along with Liudvik Sholinian, as Team Ortega is running rampant over Volk with a 4-0 lead.
Lampros has been eliminated from the competition, though he will remain in the TUF house to train.
The episode ended with a back and forth between the coaches, with Volkanovski upset over Ortega’s late appearance. The next Middleweight bout was announced, as Ortega chose his own Kemran Lachinov (10-3) to face off with Bryan Battle (5-1).
Tune in next Tuesday for the coverage of that episode!
Categories: The Ultimate Fighter